Wisconsin Senate Republicans Screw Unions

I’m just learning that the Wisconsin Senate just passed a bill to strip pubic employees of collective bargaining rights. They did this by separating the union busting provision from the larger budget bill and making it a separate law. Apparently under Senate rules they didn’t need the quorum to pass it.

However, a Dem Wisconsin senator-in-exile is saying the maneuver violates Wisconsin “open meetings” laws that requires a certain amount of prior notice to such a vote. The senators-in-exile might go back to Wisconsin now, but their first priority is to explore legal remedies for overturning tonight’s Senate vote.

Meanwhile, Lee Fang at Think Progress says that state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald admitted on Fox News that the whole point of the rights-stripping is to cripple the unions and make it easier for Republicans to get elected in Wisconsin.

FITZGERALD: Well if they flip the state senate, which is obviously their goal with eight recalls going on right now, they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.

Update: See TPM for details.

Update: Howard Fineman on MSNBC say that today’s maneuver was ordered by the national leaders of the Republican Party in hopes that the students and union members in Madison (a college town) will hit the streets and overreact. They want violent demonstrations they can show to people nationwide so they can paint President Obama and Democrats generally as some kind of 1960s radicals.

22 thoughts on “Wisconsin Senate Republicans Screw Unions

  1. The whole point of the rights-stripping goes far beyond crippling the unions. The Corporate intention is to make the US more competitive with China by reducing our work force’s wages to those comparable and competitive with third world nations.

  2. Pearl Harbor comes to mind. For those unfamiliar with true history, WWII had been going on for years in Pacific and Europe before the entry of the US. Germany had invested heavily in a strategy of keeping the US neutral. Japan, however, saw the chance to neutralize the only military force capable of interfering in the Pacific. So in a brilliant military stroke, Japan crippled the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. This turned out to be a strategic blunder (Germany had the US effectively out of the war – FDR might have been impeached for lend-lease.) In winning a decisive battle, Japan lost the war for the Axis.

    Here is the point, and I apologize for being wordy. We are looking at our ‘Day of Infamy’. Every public school teacher in America knows. (The teacher’s union in WI endorsed three GOP candidates who went back on a promise to support collective bargaining.) Now they know, not just in WI, and not just teachers . If you work for the government, you have a bulls-eye on your back.

    It’s not just government unions. It’s NPR & Planned Parenthood and a lot of institutions that are only objects of hate to the lunatic fringe right. People who made a point of not voting because of their contempt for both parties may see the difference in 2012. Republicans may be emboldened by their victory in this battle. I hope so. I hope they reach for greater examples of what evangelical libertarian conservatism is about. And I hope they have awakened a sleeping tiger.

  3. Those who can see what they are looking at are getting a first hand view of tyranny in action. Those dumb teabaggers who so proudly ally themselves with the memory of the founding fathers and the detestation of tyranny are practicing the thing they claim to hate the most. It’s strange how we can see the faults in others but we can’t see them in ourselves (unless your a liberal gifted with the ability of introspection).

  4. I think Fineman’s comments are wrong. They did not pass this at this time in order to get an over reaction from the lefties that can be spread across the country. I was watching when he said it and thought it dumb then. They did it because they thought they could do it and wanted it done. We’ve been in Madison for a month with large demonstrations, and closed down school districts across the state; and poll numbers have climbed because of it. I think it’s our actions that have persuaded people to take us seriously. If we were burning down buildings, then fine, that’s overreactions. But we have been demonstrating with ALOT of people, peacefully.

  5. I think Doug Hughes has it right. We lefties are often quiet, thoughtful people who like our Garrison Keillor (or What Do You Know) and green tea. We are slow to anger. This kind of thing really puts me over the top. I am REALLY, REALLY tired of getting pooped on because I didn’t happen to be born a billionare. This Land is OUR Land!

  6. buckyblue.. What’s your take on what they’ve done. Do you think it’s a act of desperation that will fail and cost them politically, or will they succeed in their plot? I know they have destroyed the pretension of financial necessity to balance the budget by eliminating collective bargaining. I’m hoping that the people of Wisconsin see through Walker’s plot and turn in anger on the repugs and baggers.

  7. Those who can see what they are looking at are getting a first hand view of tyranny in action.

    You got that right, Swami. I see it like the rise of the Nazis during the depression of the 1930s. If I’m not mistaken, I think they were strong at first in certain provinces (Bavaria?) and not others. But they eventually swept Germany. George Lakoff warned us that destroying the unions will marginalize the Democratic party, which is their aim. The Nazis banned the communists and the unions – anything that competed with them for power.

    There are so many datapoints popping up these days that the speed of the right’s recent conquests is overwhelming to me. It’s not on everyone’s radar, but in Michigan – which has a trifecta: the governorship and both legislative houses are all under Republican control – the governor is seeking emergency powers:

    The governor of Michigan is trying to force through the legislature a bill that would establish emergency rule, LITERALLY. Gov. Snyder is seeking emergency powers that would enable him to 1) unilaterally declare a “financial emergency”, 2) disincorporate entire municipal governments, 3) dismiss elected officials with no replacement election to follow, 4) seize control of local civil services, 5) hand taxpayer money, services and POWERS to private, for-profit firms.

    Gov. Snyder’s plan is the same kind of flagrantly undemocratic “emergency rule” used by military dictators to oppose any semblance of democratic opposition to their policies. While no one expects Gov. Snyder will be rounding up dissidents any time soon, the fight in Michigan is NOT about unions; the governor is attempting to wrest from the hands of every citizen of the state of Michigan, the right to determine who governs at the consent of the governed.

    In reading these postings from Michigan and Wisconsin and elsewhere, I’ve also read comments by those who managed to flee, ever grateful for having done so.

    Months ago, Sara Robinson wrote about the progression of fascism, how there are certain definable stages that fascism takes as it progresses toward completely taking over a country. One of the next steps in this progression is whether laws can be broken with impunity – in other words, whether the bullies can get away with it.

    I would argue that this has been happening at the top levels of government and business for a long time. Bush/Cheney won’t visit certain countries for fear of being picked up as war criminals, but they sleep safely at home in the US. This culture of bullying extends down to lower level officials, like the Wisconsin legislature which probably violated its own rules in ramming through Walker’s union busting bill. Sick little toads like O’Keefe can destroy well meaning organizations, ruin careers, and get away with it.

    You used the term “Kristalnacht” to describe it, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Kristalnacht – the night of glass – was one of the major turning points in Germany when the bullies could threaten others, damage property and get away with it. Germany turned the corner that night.

    I haven’t been this depressed about the USA since Bush/Cheney were in power. I’m profoundly grateful that I don’t live anywhere near our own upper midwest “Bavaria” – I once did – where our own American fascism is making major gains.

  8. The fact that republicans want to balance their state budgets by cutting back on education, should tell you some thing right there, I ve never seen anything so stupid in my life. I mean after all, childeren can’t vote, but here we are voting for the very people that would do just that. When will the insanity end?

  9. “The fact that republicans want to balance their state budgets by cutting back on education, should tell you some thing right there”

    They want Gov’t funded Madrassas (charter schools), where there are no standards and you can indoctrinate the young.

    Needless to say, poor schools leads not only to dumb kids, but it GREATLY erodes property values. Who wants to live somewhere where the schools suck?

  10. Swami: yeah, they’ve over reached. Many, Many, Many people who would not get involved in politics except for the ballot box are in the streets in Madison and other places or walking neighborhoods getting signatures for recall elections. I went and saw my state rep, who is a Republican, and kind of barged in on him and six or seven other Republican reps and they were all huddled around watching Fox. I think that’s why they seem so tone deaf. The only people they hear are on their side. So, as far as they are concerned, everyone is for what they’re doing and those protestors, and polls, are just union thugs from out of state. I saw an acquaintance of mine at the grocery store the other day, a staunch republican, he was in Madison marching too because he said, “It’s just not right”. When you’ve lost him, and he’s not even a moderate or independent, then you’ve lost a lot of people who voted for you. Scott Walker thinks this will propel him onto the ticket in 2012, which would be entertaining to see him campaign as a, probably, VP pick while his ass is getting recalled her in WI.

  11. So, with tens of thousands, sometime hundreds of thousands,protesting in the streets, the Republicans in WI find some apparently obscure rule to bend the law to their will. Taking away a basic labor right that people died to get, setting workers back a century. Not to get all Godwin on anyone, but you know who else hated unions? Hitler.
    In my mind, collective bargaining is to workers what Habeus Corpus is to all people. And we know how much the Republicans respected that most basic, basic, right under Bush, where he and his Congress threw away over 8 centuries of law.

    And Scott in FL apparently doesn’t feel like there are any rules, and that he’s the CEO of the state, and isn’t beholden to anyone, least of all the shareholders, or as they were once known, voters.

    Republican “democracy” in action. More like ‘democracy in Achtung!’

    “These are the times that try men’s souls…”

  12. Not to overcomment (AGAIN!), but if you look at the rightie blogs, they must have all had wet-dreams of violence last night. They’re practically praying to Mars for violent reactions around the country, because they want us to fulfill their dreams of ‘the violent left.’

    I don’t think these people have been this excited since the latest “Faces of Death” snuff video came out, whenever that was.

  13. Did I hear correctly this morning that the bill passed the WI Senate by a vote of 18-1?? Eighteen people managed to strip thousands of hard-working citizens of their rights?

    Somehow, I don’t think this is over, but the gloaters ain’t bright enough to see that.

  14. Gulag, I disagree. It’s not their fantasies of a violent left they are hoping to make come true, it’s their fantasies of violently smashing the faces of leftist protesters that turns them on. They still have enough restraint to feel bad about bashing nonviolent people, but they are itching for an excuse to start wailing on the DFHs.

    (Or, more accurately, to watch riot cops in body armor clubbing defenseless middle-aged white women school teachers. It’s not like the Keyboard Commando’s ever leave their chairs to get their own hands bloody.)

  15. biggerbox,
    I agree.
    Maybe I should have mentioned that it’s just that, like you said “They still have enough restraint to feel bad about bashing nonviolent people…” so they need a spark to go all “Taxi Driver” on the DFH’s. All they need and want is for one person to do something that can be perceived as provacative or violent, and they can all go ballistic.

    “It’s not like the Keyboard Commando’s ever leave their chairs to get their own hands bloody.”
    To them, their Cheeto-orange stained hands ARE their version of their own hands getting dirty with blood. It takes mountains of dew to wash away that taste of blood.

  16. Pingback: The Mahablog » Today in Wisconsin

  17. I was calling for a general strike, but perhaps cooler heads have prevailed. One, the ‘conference committee’ operated against state laws, so the likelihood that the bill will stand at this point is dubious. But it’s a matter of time before they do it correctly and get the same result. But it again just shows them to be desperate to do whatever it takes to get the results they want. As I tell my republicans friend(s), this is not your father’s republican party. They have no respect for quaint things like ‘rule of law’ and ‘respect for democracy’ or ‘respect for the other side’. Compromise and negotiations, no chance, we are right and you are wrong and we will destroy you to get power. I think eventually it will blow up in their face as people will see the ugly side of their blind ambition. I didn’t think it would happen this soon, nor that I would be in the middle of it. These are Rove and foxnews republicans.

  18. Buckyblue, seeing’s it is doubtful the bill will withstand legal challenges, could the intent have been to convince the Dem pols to return to the Capitol, thinking the bill was a done deal and they no longer had need to stay away? Then–wham!–soon as they show up, ram through the previous bill?

    I don’t know if that’s possible, but I wouldn’t put anything past that bucket of snakes.

  19. buckyblue..I keep thinking of Tom Delay( the Hammer) and how he thought he was so clever in corrupting the democratic process to aid his beloved republican party. Now he is a convicted felon because he didn’t think the rule of law pertained to him. He was the republican wonder boy until the hammer fell on him.

    I enjoy looking back at Delay’s smiling mug shot, and his expressed eagerness to have his day in court to claim his “vindication”, and then compare that to his standing before a judge after being convicted weeping and pleading for mercy because he has Jesus in his heart. He had a jailhouse conversion in the courthouse. 🙂

  20. Swami,
    I wonder if that’s the only “conversion” DeLay has had?
    Or did “The Hammer” find out that in jail, he’s just another nail?

    And no, I’m not advocating jailhouse rape.
    I’m not!
    Really, I’m not.
    I’m not…
    But, if it was gonna happen, it couldn’t happen to a nicer g…
    I’m not…

  21. cundgulag – “…collective bargaining is to workers what Habeas Corpus is to all peoples” reminds me of the right’s ongoing objection to the years-ago Court’s Miranda ruling – an arrested person must be informed that he does not have to answer any questions and he has a right to a lawyer and if he can’t afford one the state must provide him with one.

    These rights are either spelled out or implied in the Constitution. All Miranda did was make it a law that the arrested party had to be informed of them. So Conservatives are only objecting to the reading of them to the accused.

    I have yet to hear a Rightist successfully defend this argument because there is no defense. However what is clear is that the Rightists believe that the lesser among us should have little or no say in the courses of their own destinies (and certainly no right to happiness.) Denying collective bargaining is just another nail in the coffin.

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